The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Harp is a key component to 2008-09 team

Ryan Harp gets chills when he hears the crowd roar after he hits a three-point shot, and he’s been playing the game almost his entire life. Harp says that feeling is the reason he loves the game he plays.

Harp is one of seven freshmen recruited to SMU by head coach Matt Doherty this season. With just five upperclassmen on the team, Harp found himself getting more and more playing time as the season went on. He saw playing time in all 30 of SMU’s games and started 18 of them, including starts in every Conference USA game. But he admits there is still a lot for him to learn.

“I think we have grown a lot as a team, I think all the young guys have gotten a lot better,” Harp said. “We’ve obviously got a lot of things we still need to work on, but I think it’s cool seeing us grow as a team and we really owe that to John [Killen] and Derrick [Roberts].”

Even as a freshman, Harp comes in with knowledge of the game from a former college player and college coach: his dad, Dennis Harp. Ryan Harp got an early look at college basketball when he went to watch his dad coach at Hardin-Simmons University, a small school in Abilene, Texas.

In November 1997, Harp traveled to El Paso to see his dad’s Cowboys take on the Texas-El Paso Miners. He remembers the atmosphere inside the arena and the excitement of college basketball: the band, the fans and the students. He also saw that anything could happen as division three Hardin-Simmons lost to division one UTEP by only five points.

“From then on I was just really excited about the possibility of playing college basketball,” Harp said.

Now that he is a Mustang, Harp’s schedule has changed a little from when he was in high school. A more demanding practice regimen and longer game schedule are among the differences between high school and college. It is something that every college freshman has to deal with.

“This year the thing I really had to work on was time management, balancing out everything,” Harp said.

The key was setting up a routine. What he does on game day is simple and functional.

After a good night’s sleep, Harp gets up and eats breakfast. Then comes the first practice of the day, shoot around, where he tries to be relaxed and get into an early rhythm. Then it is all about the game plan. Harp looks over the scouting report for the other team and pays close attention to who he will be matched up against. After that, he eats with his teammates and relaxes before game time.

When he steps out onto the court at Moody Coliseum, he may not look the part. In his white SMU jersey lined with red and blue, sporting the number 30, Harp is an average, for basketball standards, 6-foot-four-inches. In a class photo he might tower over the rest of his peers, but on the court he is surrounded by teammates seven-foot- one-inch Bamba Fall, six-foot-nine-inch Papa Dia and six-foot-eight-inch Alex Malone, and can look like the little guy.

Harp’s role has also changed since high school. In his senior season he averaged 21.9 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, stats worthy of being named to the First Team All-State in Texas. But now he is the team’s “stopper.”

No one knows that role more than four-year starter Derrick Roberts.

“Since I’ve been here four years I know playing the two, three position, that is where the other team’s scoring comes from,” Roberts said.

Without Roberts next season it will be Harp’s role to slow down the other team’s offense. That shouldn’t be a problem for Harp, who has embraced his role and turned it into playing time.

Harp averaged 4.4 points a game, more than 15 points shy of his high school average. According to head coach Matt Doherty, anything Harp adds to on the offensive side is an added bonus.

“I want him to be that kind of player,” Doherty said. “A tough lefty who can do a lot of different things.”

For now, the key is Harp’s defense and hustle, something pointed out by Doherty, his teammates and even himself. He goes out there and does whatever he can on both sides of the ball and is aggressive though the entire game.

“He’s an excellent defender, and that is something that gets him on the floor,” Doherty said.

This season, with a record of 4-12 in the conference and just 10 total wins this year, it may be about looking to the future. There is no better way to do that then by getting playing time now, said basketball fan and SMU junior business and finance double-major Michael Bishop.

“Hopefully consistency in his game will pick up and he gains more and more experience,” Bishop said.

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